Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Putting a Cookbook to Good Use

The merchandisers and buyers at my work are given a lot of free copies of books. Publishers send them to give us advanced copies for writing editorial reviews, and to help spark interest in their titles. In my job as an analyst, I'm unfortunately not on any of those mailing lists.

But I do get my fair share of free cookbooks from generous folks who get multiple copies, or get copies of books they don't want to keep. A couple weeks ago, an old friend who manages part of our merchandising team came by with a beautiful hardcover cookbook that she wanted to make sure ended up in the collection of someone who would actually use it. The book is Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors by Andrea Nguyen

Tonight we made our first recipe out of it, steamed salmon with garlic & ginger, and it was delicious. We loved how delicate and light it was, but with bold flavors. It was remarkably quick to put together, and introduced me to a new way of using my bamboo steamer (the new one we bought to replace the one I lit on fire). We used a similar mix of ingredients to throw together a sauce for some green beans, to pair with it - adding red pepper flakes and using 1/2 a shallot, instead of garlic and ginger.

And of course, our salmon came from Loki Fish Co.

Steamed Salmon with Garlic and Ginger
1 1/4 tspn sugar
1/4 tspn black pepper
2 Tbspn oyster sauce
2 Tbspn soy sauce
2 1/2 Tbspn canola oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Chubby 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely shredded
3 scallions, green part only, chopped
1 scallion, white part only, cut lengthwise into thin strips
1 1/4 lb salmon fillet, cut in two equal pieces

Combine the sugar, pepper, oyster sauce, and soy sauce in a small bowl and stir to dissolve sugar. In a small saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 15-20 seconds, or until fragrant. Add ginger and cook for another minute, or until aromatic and pliant. Pour in oyster sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Add chopped scallion, stir to combine, and remove from heat. In a bamboo steamer, place a heatproof plate that is 1 inch smaller in diameter than the steamer. (In our case, we put a dessert plate in each of our two steamer layers). Set aside a few scallion strips for garnish, and scatter the rest on the plate(s). Place the fish atop the plate and pour on the flavoring sauce. Fill the steamer with water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Place the tray in the steamer, cover, and steam the fish for 8-10 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the thickest part easily pierces the flesh all the way to the bottom. When the fish is done, move the fish to serving plates, pour sauce & juices over fish, and garnish with reserved scallion strips.

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